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We love Influencers. Not Influencer Marketing.

 

I started The Whole Truth, because I’d had it with food brands and their misleading marketing practices. I’d suffered so much personally, that I made it my mission to bring honesty back to food. And to food marketing. 

Now, as a young food brand, outside of performance marketing, the only other viable marketing medium one can afford, is Influencer Marketing. And since we’d recently raised some VC money, we too decided to explore this marketing channel. 

I must admit, I was so excited about this! We already had so many extremely famous and influential folks talking about TWT – purely because they were happy customers and wanted to spread the word. Imagine how many more such brilliant folks we could work with, now that we had the resources!

Unfortunately though, my excitement was short-lived.  But before I say why, allow me to ask another why…

 

Why Influencers?

Till less than a decade ago, celebrities were selling us everything from cheap underwear to detergent powders to car tyres and TMT bars. Products they (definitely) didn’t use themselves. In categories they (most definitely) didn’t have any expertise in. 

So, somewhere along the way, we stopped believing them. And started believing actual experts instead.  

That expert cook who recommended a long-lasting knife set. That experienced traveller who recommended a value-for-money backpack. That ripped guy, who’s transformation we’d seen with our own eyes, who recommended a certain protein powder. Real people whose influence stemmed from their expertise. And from their followers’ belief that this expertise couldn’t be bought. 

 

Those were the influencers we’d set out to find. What we found instead, was Influencer Marketing. Not real people, but faceless platforms where, for the right price, one could buy not just reach and engagement, but expertise and opinion too. 

We also found that this wasn’t a one-sided problem. With our brand guidelines and sanitised scripts and need for reach-maximization at any cost, us brands were equal participants in this act of making influencers a ‘marketing channel’. And their influence, a commodity. 

But here’s the thing. Influence isn’t a commodity! It’s a rarity. Earned over years, through expertise. And experts, by definition, can’t have five different ‘favorite’ face-creams on five different days!

 

Influencer marketing is broken. We broke it. 

So yes, I was disappointed. But I didn’t have anyone to be disappointed with. Because as far as I could see, we (brands, agencies, influencers and even audiences) broke influencer marketing together. And hence it was our collective responsibility to fix it. 

And it shouldn’t be too hard to fix, right? Clearly, honest influencers do exist! All one needs is a way to reach them. And what better way to reach like-minded people, than to tell them what’s on your mind! 

So that’s what we did. We made this video, and with it launched….

 

The Whole Truth-Sayers. Calling all honest influencers.

Dear reader, If you know an honest influencer, someone you respect for their expertise and their honest opinions, please make sure this clarion call reaches them. Tag them on our video, and ask them to become a Whole Truth Sayer. All participation details can be found here.

This is our small, humble attempt at doing influencer marketing right. And we can’t do it without your help. 

Hope this speaks to you

An eternally optimistic and grateful,

Shashank

PS: If you’re an influencer reading this, you might be wondering – ‘are these guys asking me to work for free’? Well, absolutely not. As a brand, if we’re asking to piggy-back on your hard-earned influence, it’s incumbent on us to pay you for the ride. Just as long as we’re both clear that what’s being bought is your time and your consideration. Not your opinion. 

 

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